There are many good papers on the market manufactured by Agfa, Argenta,
Kodak, Ilford, Tura and others. Unlike film, papers are manufactured with
different contrast ranges, called the grade of a paper. Paper grades range
from 0 to 5, with grade 0 being a paper of low contrast or 'soft' paper
and grade 5 a high contrast or 'hard' paper. A grade 2 paper is called
There are also several 'multi-grade' papers on the market. These papers
are coated with two emulsions, a 'soft' emulsion sensitive to light of
one colour and a 'hard' emulsion, sensitive to light of a different colour.
By changing the colour of the light that exposes the paper the grade is
Photographic papers are also available with different surfaces, from matt
to glossy. Some surface textures are mechanically impressed into the paper
and can be disconcerting.
Papers are divided into two main groups:
a. Conventional or Fibre-based Papers
The photographic emulsion is coated onto the paper base after a
thin baryta layer and then covered with a gelatine overcoat. During
processing the solutions penetrate the paper base and therefore
these papers have to be washed very long after processing. They
dry slowly and have a tendency to curl up during drying. Fibre-based
papers are available in different thicknesses, called the 'paper
b. Resin-coated Papers
The paper base of these papers is coated on both sides with a thin
plastic layer. These papers are normally only available in one thickness,
but with different surfaces. The biggest advantage of RC-papers
is their short processing and drying time and the fact that they
A cross-section of a RC-paper is shown in the figure below.
Make up paper developer, stop-bath and paper fixer according
to the manufacturers' instructions. A 2% acetic acid (glacial) solution
can be used as stop bath. Bring the temperature of the solutions to
20C or higher and pour the solutions into trays that are slightly
bigger than the biggest print you intend making. Place a printing
tong into each tray. Tongs should not be moved from one tray to the
next and the developing tong should never come into contact
with the stop-bath. If it does, rinse the tong before replacing it
in the developing tray. Always keep your hands and fingers out
of the solutions.
Place the exposed print into the developer so that all areas are
wetted immediately. Gently agitate the developer during the whole
development time. A few seconds before the time is up, lift the
print gently by one corner and allow excess solution to drain off.
Development time: 1 minute for RC-papers
3-5 minutes for fibre-based papers
2. Immerse print in stop-bath and agitate for the recommended time.
Again lift it out gently, drain and put into fixer.
Time in stop-bath: 10 seconds for RC-papers
30 seconds for fibre-based papers
3. Fix print for recommended time, agitating the fixer gently. Lift
print out, drain and place into a holding tray filled with water.
Fixing time: 30-60 seconds for RC-papers (consult fixer instructions)
2-3 minutes for fibre-based papers
4. When a few prints have accumulated in the holding tray, wash
them in running water.
Washing time: 5-10 minutes for RC-papers
30 - 60 minutes for fibre-based papers
5. Wipe washed prints with a squeegee and place on a clean rack
to dry or hang from a line with pegs.
a Test Print
Place a sheet or strip of photographic paper on the base board. Select
your time interval, for example from 5 to 20 seconds. Set the timer
on 5 seconds and expose the strip for that time. With a black piece
of cardboard cover part of the paper without touching it and expose
the rest for another 5 seconds. Then cover the next part of the paper
and expose the rest again for 5 seconds. Repeat the last step. Process
the paper as described above. Decide on the best exposure and expose
a sheet of paper for that time. If the whole test strip is too light
or too dark, open or close the enlarging lens. Try to expose paper
between 6 and 20 seconds.
contact sheet is a positive copy of a roll of film on one piece
of paper. It helps in selecting negatives for enlarging, deciding
on composition of final prints and giving valuable information on
the exposure of the print. It also minimizes the handling of
a contact sheet (proof sheet)
Cut your developed and dried film into strips of 4 to 6 negatives
per strip. A 36 exp. film, cut into 6 strips of 6 negatives each,
fits conveniently onto a piece of 20 x 25 cm photographic paper.
With an empty negative carrier, raise the enlarger head until the
area exposed on the baseboard is slightly bigger than the paper
for the proof sheet. Switch off the room light and make a test strip
of a 'good' negative. Process as described above. Select the best
time. Place the photographic paper on the baseboard with the emulsion
side up. Then put the film strips onto the paper emulsion (dull)
side down and place a clean piece of glass on top. Expose for the
previously determined time and process.
A 'proper proof' is a contact sheet made with the shortest time
for maximum black on the photographic paper through a piece of unexposed,
developed and fixed film. To select the time for a 'proper proof';
take a piece of unexposed, developed and fixed film and make a test
strip with time intervals of 1 second. Wash and dry strip. In good
light decide where it becomes impossible to distinguish between
two adjoining black areas. The shorter time will be the time for
the maximum black. A 'proper proof' gives a good indication if a
film has been correctly exposed and developed.
Place the negative of your choice in the negative carrier, emulsion
(dull) side down. Make sure that the negative is dust free. Switch
the enlarger light on and adjust the height of the head until the
portion of the negative to be printed is the right size. With the
lens wide open, focus the image on the easel. Stop down the lens and
switch off the enlarger light. Expose and process a test strip, select
the correct exposure and contrast and then make the final enlargement.
If certain areas of your print are too dark for your liking, redo
the print and use your hands or a piece of carton to hold back the
light for some of the time. Keep your hand in motion so that no hard
lines form on your print. If some areas are too light, they have to
be exposed longer while the other areas are protected from the light.
and retouching prints
Unfortunately few prints are without tiny white spots caused by dust,
hairs or scratches. But fortunately these can be spotted. You will
need good working light, a fine brush (no. 00 or no. 000), a retouching
ink or a retouching watercolour and a lots of patience.
Retouching dyes are absorbed by the emulsion and if used correctly
are not noticeable. Water colours dry on the surface and are always
noticeable. The best known retouching dye is 'Spotone'. It is available
in different colours and can be mixed to match the tone of your print.
Use a almost dry brush, start with a tone lighter than that of the
surrounding area and slowly built up to the correct tone.
Black spots can be removed or lightened by bleaching with 'Spot off'
or 'Farmer's reducer'. It is however very difficult to control the
reduction and dense spots need more then one application. When the
required tone has been achieved, the print has to be fixed
and washed again.